Oct. 18, 2012 

New Jersey Will Become Ninth State to Back Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United

Note: Today, the New Jersey Assembly is scheduled to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

TRENTON, N.J. – Indicating growing momentum to reduce corporate power over the political process, New Jersey today is to become the ninth state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the damaging U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed unlimited corporate money to flood elections.

The New Jersey Assembly today is scheduled to endorse a resolution for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and allow the people to take democracy back from corporate control. The state Senate approved the resolution on Oct. 4; because the resolution does not need the governor’s approval, it will be final after the Assembly’s vote.

“In passing this resolution, New Jersey is casting its vote in support of people power over corporate power,” said Aquene Freechild, organizer with Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign. “New Jersey has taken an important step toward restoring our democracy.”

Susannah Newman of American Dream Movement of Cape May and founder of NJ for the Overturn of Citizens United said, “This is a nonpartisan issue. We see the overwhelming growth of money in politics as the root cause of most public policy problems. Elections are being bought and legislative agendas skewed.”

“We believe that in our democracy, the size of your wallet should not determine the volume of your voice,” added Peter Skopec, organizer at NJPIRG. “Today, New Jersey sent a powerful message to Congress that it’s high time to fix our broken campaign finance system.”

“We will never have clean air or clean water without clean government. As long as corporate polluters can use unlimited monies to influence elections and elected officials, the environment will lose. Citizen United threatens public health, the environment and democracy itself, and must be overturned,” said Jeff Tittel, director, NJ Sierra Club.

Other states that have backed an amendment are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont. Three hundred local governments have passed resolutions supporting an amendment, and more than 125 members of Congress have indicated their support. In a Reddit chat room, President Barack Obama recently stated his support for a constitutional amendment.

Since the 2010 Citizens United ruling, super PACs, trade associations and other groups – many of which hide the identities of their donors – have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to sway elections. In New Jersey, several million dollars have flowed in from out-of-state contributors to influence elections that are supposed to be decided by New Jersey’s own citizens.

The effort to pass the New Jersey resolution was spearheaded by NJ for the Overturn of Citizens United, a coalition that includes The American Dream Movement of Cape May County, BlueWaveNJ, Food and Water Watch, Free Speech For People,  International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 877, New Jersey Common Cause, New Jersey American Federation of Teachers, New Jersey Communications Workers of America, New Jersey Citizen Action, MoveOn Councils (Mid-Jersey, Essex, Hudson), New Jersey Main Street Alliance, NJPIRG, NJ Sierra Club, New Jersey Tenants Organization, New Jersey Work Environment Council, New Jersey Working Families Alliance, People for the American Way, Public Citizen, Union of Rutgers Administrators – AFT United Steelworkers District 4, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey.